Senator introduces bill to raise teacher pay
State Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, introduced a bill Tuesday to raise S.C. teacher pay to the national average.
Thus far, the proposal bill has the support of four Republicans and five Democrats, including Gov. Nikki Haley’s likely Democratic challenger, Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden.
“I wanted to make sure it was truly a bipartisan bill,” Jackson said. “I don’t want to get it caught up in the governor’s race” or other partisan battles.
“It is critical, to our short-term and long-term success as a state, to pay our teachers what they truly deserve,” Jackson said. “As we prepare to compete in an ever-changing global society, teacher recruitment and teacher retention play such a vital role in the quality of education our students receive and deserve.”
Jackson said he is not sure yet how much money increasing teacher pay would cost the state. Budget forecasters are working on those numbers, he said.
The average teacher pay for S.C. public-school teachers is about $48,000, according to the state Department of Education. The national average for public-school teacher salaries in 2011-2012 was about $57,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
The bill would phase in the pay increase over five years, making it easier to pay for and, therefore, to pass.
Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster, said paying teachers competitively is key to attracting and retaining quality teachers. “People are going to teach, hopefully, because they love to teach,” he said. “But they also have to pay the mortgage.”
The General Assembly would need to find the money to pay for the increase, especially in districts that do not have the tax base to pay for higher school costs, Gregory said.
Pickens County state representative will not seek re-election
State Rep. B.R. Skelton said Tuesday he would not seek re-election in November.
The Pickens County Republican had one of the most controversial elections in 2012, losing to GOP primary challenger Ed Harris only to have those results thrown out because of a state Supreme Court decision. Harris later got his name on the ballot again as a petition candidate but lost.
Skelton, a retired economics professor at Clemson, has been in the House since 2003. He is the third GOP lawmaker to announce his retirement this year.
Reps. Liston Barfield, R-Horry, and Roland Smith, R-Aiken, also have said they will not seek re-election.
Governor’s schedule and activities
Gov. Nikki Haley has just two events on her publicly announced schedule for this week.
Wednesday, 7 p.m.: Deliver the State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly, State House
Friday, 1 p.m.: Attend Greer inland port opening reception, Greer
Haley’s activities last week included the following, according to her office:
6 – Constituents meetings
5 – Speeches or receptions
4 – Legislative meetings
2 each – News events, economic development meetings, policy calls or meetings, and law-enforcement briefings
1 each – Budget meeting, education meeting and business ribbon cutting
Busiest day: Wednesday, nine activities
Slowest day: Thursday, three activities
Note: Haley worked Monday, the state’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, on her State of the State address. She also addressed the Palmetto Business Forum on Jan. 13 and attended the S.C. Sheriffs’ Association reception on Wednesday – a pair of events not included on her public schedule released last week.